Denver Hosts Colorado on Night of Firsts for Buffs
|Denver, a program for over a
decade, topped its new regional foe 13-6 (unofficially), but the
Buffalo's had positives to take home from their first
© Trevor Brown
DENVER - On a night of unofficial "firsts'', the first goal in University of Colorado lacrosse history was scored by Sarah Lautman, a player who was added to the roster just nine days ago.
While coach Ann Elliott and her staff have been recruiting players since April 2012 in anticipation of the Buffaloes inaugural season, Lautman has been trying to transform herself from a club player to a Division I player. The only "club'' player on the 23-player roster, Lautman scored on a free position shot, aiming top right against University of Denver keeper Hannah Hook. Her goal set off a spirited celebration among the Buffs, who were trailing 4-0 amid growing concern that they couldn't compete against the established Pioneers, who started playing lacrosse in 1999.
"I was nervous for a couple of minutes, and then we scored and you realize you're going to be all right,'' said Colorado goalie Paige Soenksen. "We realized, we can compete; we can hang with them.''
Although Denver prevailed 13-6, Colorado showed promise before a crowd of approximately 250 fans at Denver's Peter Barton Stadium.
"This was a great test of our ability to focus and to play hard,'' said Elliott, a former Northwestern assistant and All-American player for the Wildcats, who is assisted by former Northwestern stars Hannah Nielsen and Colleen Magarity.
"We've been waiting to play for a long time,'' Elliot said. "And a lot of the kids have been waiting for a long time too. It was great to kick off Colorado lacrosse. Fortunately, we have Denver just down the road. Denver is a great team.''
The Pioneers lost four key players off an 18-3 team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament last spring after sweeping the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with an 8-0 mark.
"We've got a lot of work to do,'' Pioneers coach Liza Kelly said with a smile. "I was proud of the pace. We've got nine freshmen, but we'll get there.''
While acknowledging that her counterparts suited up 21 freshmen, Kelly said, "Colorado looked great. They are a skilled team and are well coached.''
The opportunity to play for a staff with the Northwestern pedigree and to get in on the ground floor was enticing for many of the new Buffaloes, including Soenksen, a freshman from Encinitas, California.
"Building a program is the biggest opportunity,'' she said. "We can have the legacy we want to have and we can build the traditions we want to have.''
Lautman, her teammate, nearly gave up on being part of the beginning Buffs.
"I have dreamed of playing Division I lacrosse since I was a little girl,'' said the midfielder from Reading, Massachusetts. "I came to Colorado for the school. I played club lacrosse and then my freshman year they announced that they were adding Division I lacrosse. This is so amazing. I can't believe I'm here.''
Lautman was part of an offense that was impressive in spurts, moving the ball with quick, precision passes that led to goals.
Denver's stick skills were even more adept along with its transition game.
"We'll see a different team this year,'' Kelly said. "We have more team speed than in the past.''
Junior attack Jill Remenapp, from Woodbine, Maryland, scored a game-high four goals for Denver. Freshman attack Nicole Martindale of Brooklin, Ontario scored twice and was a key part of Denver's confident offense.
Both teams continue their fall tune-ups with trips to the East Coast for the Navy Play Day on Oct. 12.